If you are eligible for a COVID-19 booster, get it NOW. Getting boosted now provides additional protection in the present and you will still be eligible for future boosters.
Moderna has announced plans for a fall booster that includes coverage for previous strains of COVID-19 as well as Omicron strains. The goal of an updated booster includes increased protection against more than one strain of COVID-19 and prolonged duration of protection. If everything goes as planned, a bivalent vaccine is expected to be available in the US in the fall of 2022.
Vaccines for viruses that mutate relatively fast are often modified annually. A good example is the flu shot. Each year, scientists predict what strains of influenza are most likely to circulate during the next flu season and design a flu shot most likely to protect against those strains. This “selection” process occurs approximately 6 months before the flu season to allow time for vaccine production and distribution. Some years the flu virus circulating during flu season is different from the strains included in the vaccine, resulting in a less effective vaccine. That said, flu vaccines still reduce the risk of influenza infection and serious disease and have very few side effects. You wouldn’t skip a flu shot this year to wait for a better one next year. Instead, it’s best to remain up to date on your vaccinations so that you get the combined benefits of both vaccinations.
Getting a COVID-19 booster dose today decreases your risk of infection and serious illness in the setting of rising COVID-19 cases. COVID-19 cases are increasing in most of the Northern Hemisphere and are significantly underreported as rapid tests done at home are not systematically included in case counts. Up to date COVID-19 vaccination which includes at least one booster reduces the risk of infection and severe disease. Up to date COVID-19 vaccination is more effective than previous COVID-19 infection in preventing Omicron infection. Given the timeline for Omicron specific boosters, getting a booster now will not prevent you from receiving a booster in six months if they become available. If you have not received any boosters, you are not receiving the full protection available from COVID-19 vaccines.
COVID-19 vaccines are safe, widely available, and decrease your risk of infection and serious illness. Vaccines also decrease transmission as it makes it harder for a person to ever be infected. We expect the frequency of boosters to decrease over time. For now, getting a dose now is your best bet. Those Nerdy Girls will continue to provide updates on new COVID-19 vaccine formulations and how to navigate this evolving situation.
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